With the English having a decided advantage in the 60 point setup as they won both games, I decided to increase the point total to 80. The French added the OE version of the Santa Lucia (allowing a duplicate for the sake of using unused game pieces), 3 helmsmen (for the two Santa Lucias and the Tunis), and a few generic crew for their ships, giving them six ships overall. The English increased their total to five by adding the Pyre, the other Cursed LE submarine from MI. They also added Edward Low (the LE crew from MI - 8 points for crew possession) by removing the firepot specialist from the Locker. For this first game the Pyre went without crew, with all three Cursed crew aboard the Locker.
The game was really fantastic, and I actually had time just now to write a lengthy report for it. The island setup featured the two HI's being far away from each other, with the four wild islands (1L apart from each other) arranged in a square in the middle of the sea.
With the English as the first player, the Algiers got things started with an extra action that she used to quickly sail out to one of the wild islands. Since she got there before the slow-moving Patagonia, she explored the island to help out the Patagonia, who was able to leave her explorer at home and free up a cargo space to be utilized for treasure instead.
The Triton and the Belle Poule eagerly got busy exploring the nearest wild islands, but the English would quickly be upon the French fleet.
The Baionnette was escorting the Belle to a wild island when the English fired the first shots of the game. The Lord Cauldwell and Algiers teamed up to sink the French two-master in one turn. The Triton would retaliate on the following turn, using her cannoneer to sink the Algiers. This marked new territory for the English, as they would have to go the rest of the game without their stubborn flagship. The Lord Cauldwell, now with a clear path after sinking the Baionnette, shot away the Belle's lone mast, but the Triton was able to shoot a mast off the Lord Cauldwell, but rolled a 1 on the ram, missing her chance to dismast the durable ship.
In the meantime, the English were busy trying to run gold with their slower, un-captained ships. The Patagonia got lucky with two 4's and a 2, raking in 10 gold on one trip to give the English the early advantage in the gold race. The Pyre docked at the island she had already explored to grab the final coin, although it was just a 1. However, since she had to surface in order to dock at the island and take the treasure, the Santa Lucia (SCS version) seized her chance to damage the sub, hitting her with a firepot (the rules say that subs can't extinguish fire by submerging, :roll: ). The Pyre rolled a 6 to rid herself of the flames before ramming off one of the Santa Lucia's two masts.
To the south, the French gold game was heating up. The Belle Poule limped home at S speed, with the Triton ramming the Lord Cauldwell derelict to end the threat (now both English gunships were out of action for the first time). She brought home 5 gold, while the Tunis found 6 more on a wild island.
Near the English home island, the French had a plan in mind. The crew of the OE Santa Lucia were drooling over the Patagonia's treasure haul worth 10 gold, since the OE version has the HI-raiding ability. With her older self (the SCS version Santa Lucia) escorting her, the two ships almost made it to the English HI. The OE version smartly sailed over the submerged Pyre, but the SCS Santa Lucia was not in such a good position, and the Pyre rammed her derelict on the next turn. Up until now, the Locker had yet to get in on the action, undecided as to which ship she should target. Seeing the imminent threat of gold being stolen, she turned around and rammed the one masted OE Santa Lucia to dismast her. The French were able to scuttle both Santa Lucias on the next two turns, as they were too far from home for the other members of their fleet to come get them.
Just when things were looking dismal for the French, their other situations improved. The Tunis docked home the 6 gold she had found earlier in the game, which tied the game at 11-11 (the Baionnette had 1 gold on her when the English sunk her). At the French HI, the Triton captured the Lord Cauldwell and towed her home to let her repair, marking the first time either fleet was able to get a captured ship back in play. The Triton also had a 2 on her that she found in the first few turns, giving the French a 13-11 lead. This is where things really went down to the wire!
The Patagonia and Belle Poule headed back out to acquire more gold for their respective fleets, knowing that whoever got theirs back first would likely win the game. The Patagonia and the Pyre (still with the 1 on board) headed back home with gold, while the Locker went after the Belle and dismasted her with an underwater ram. The Tunis sailed out to transfer the Belle's gold to her cargo hold. The Triton's guns couldn't hit the sub, but she helped out by positioning herself to block the sub off to the Tunis, hindering the Locker's mobility. The Lord Cauldwell finished repairing and sailed out to help her new fleetmates.
The Lord Cauldwell and Triton moved to block the movements of the still-submerged Locker. This let the Tunis move freely towards the French HI, but she was still one move action away. The Patagonia and Pyre docked home 3 more gold for the English, giving them a narrow 14-13 lead. At this point, there were three 1's left in play: two on the Tunis (she could only take two because her helmsman) and one on the Belle Poule.
Both the Patagonia and Pyre were too slow and too far away to affect the outcome of the situation in the south near the French HI, leaving the fate of the English fleet in the hands of the Locker. Due to the Lord Cauldwell and Triton being in the way, the 90 degree turn limit rule, and the fact that submerged submarines can't end their move actions underlapping (?) other ships, the Locker had no choice but to surface and shoot her aft guns at the Tunis in a desperate attempt to sink her, since the Tunis was so close to her HI that the S movement provided by the Galley keyword would get her home in one turn. From bow to stern, the Locker's guns are 3S, 4S, 4S. She shot a mast off the Triton with the 3S gun that wasn't in range of the Tunis, but missed with both 4S guns aimed at the Tunis!
The Tunis docked home her 2 coins, giving the French the lead once again, this time 15-14! :shock: However, the game was still not over, as the English could force a tie if the Locker managed to sink the Belle Poule, moving S per turn on oar power. Naturally the English wanted anything other than to lose to the French, so they tried to force the tie.
Unfortunately for the Locker, subs can't surface and submerge on the same turn, so she was now a sitting duck for the Triton and Lord Cauldwell. The Lord Cauldwell missed both times (as usual), but the Triton had been waiting since the first 60 point game for this moment, and her crew angrily blasted away two of the Locker's three hull pieces. Their anger temporarily blinded them, however, as the Triton moved ahead a few feet as part of a move-and-shoot, allowing the Locker just enough space to get around the stern of the Triton and get her 3S gun (now the only shot she had) in range of the Belle Poule. But of course, the shot missed :roll: , allowing the French to sink the Locker and dock the Belle's coin, giving the French a memorable 16-14 victory!
This was one of the best games I've played, and it may be the first time there's been a 16-14 score (not to mention the 11-11 tie, 15-14 lead, and numerous lead changes). An unfortunate hallmark of my games, bad luck with the dice crippled the efforts of both fleets, but the French strategy and multiple gold runners eventually prevailed. At least one more 80 point game will be played, hopefully tomorrow!
The second 80 point game was played earlier today. The islands were set up similar to the last game, but this time the four wild islands in the middle were arranged in a straight line perpendicular to the HI's, forming a wide + formation.
The game started with the Algiers dismasting the Tunis, but the French quickly responded by dismasting the Algiers and setting her on fire with the SCS Santa Lucia. The Triton quickly fetched 3 gold for the French, while the Belle Poule and OE Santa Lucia explored islands of their own. The Algiers limped away at S+S speed (through oar power and her extra action) while her comrades the Patagonia and Lord Cauldwell used explore actions. The submerged Locker dismasted the OE Santa Lucia with a ram while the sloop was docked at an island.
The Tunis, saved by the SCS Santa Lucia, made it home with her Galley keyword and repaired her lone mast. With the Patagonia docked at a wild island collecting treasure, the Santa Lucia missed her both times, but the Baionnette's 2L gun was just in range, and the Baionnette connected with a firepot. The Algiers rolled a 1 and was now completely engulfed in flames as her oarsmen desperately rowed past the burning Patagonia. The Patagonia dumped her crew to load two more gold coins (6 gold on four coins). Before the English got a chance to scuttle their fallen ships, the Santa Lucia sunk them both with well-placed shots, giving the French a bigger numbers advantage as well as placing 3 gold on each nation's HI.
In the meantime, the Lord Cauldwell had sunk the OE Santa Lucia, giving the English 2 gold and the French 1. Along with the sinking of the Patagonia, this left the gold race at 7-5 in favour of the French.
The Pyre grabbed two coins from the island that the Lord Cauldwell had explored for her, just as the Triton got back into the fray and shot and rammed her way to dismast the Cauldwell.
The Belle Poule was coming home with gold aboard, but the Locker was just in range for a shot at the galley before she could dock it home. The Locker surfaced (not in ramming range) but missed with her 3S cannon, the only one in range. The Belle Poule docked home an impressive 8 gold to give the French a commanding 15-5 lead. This meant that for the second straight game the English would be playing for a tie. But for the second straight game, they would be at a disadvantage. They only had their two subs left, as the Lord Cauldwell would be scuttled on the next turn.
The Tunis, still docked at her HI, decided to take a risk-free shot and took a hull piece off the Locker. The Pyre submerged with the gold she had gotten from her island and headed home. The Baionnette had collected a 1 from the wild island that the Belle Poule had originally explored, and headed home with only the damaged Locker in her way. The Locker missed the French two master both times, allowing the Baionnette to dock home the coin and end the game with a 16-5 French victory!
As the French obviously had the better 80 point fleet, this will be the end of this series pitting the English against the French. The English won all four games of the 40 and 60 point variations, leaving their record here at 4-2. Although all three series found one fleet winning both games, there were many stellar, hard-fought, close games, and it was nice to see the French fight back to win the final series.
At this point, there will be a four player multiplayer game between all four 80 point fleets: Americans vs. Pirates vs. English vs. French. Each fleet will be allowed to tweak their fleets in preparation for this final series to determine which fleet is the best, but the fleets will mostly be the same. I'm planning on possibly introducing terrain to the setup, but keeping UT's out since they can have a large impact on any one fleet's chances.